Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shut the Book Up: Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim (DNF Files)

Since I taught university students in South Korea for ten years, I wanted very much to like Suki Kim's memoir of teaching the sons of the North Korean elite at a university in Pyongyang.. How were the students different? How were they alike?

I only got a mild glimpse at Kim's students before I gave up and shelved this memoir. I was hoping for more focus on her current situation. Instead, there was a good deal of moaning about a bad boyfriend back in the States. New York? I can't even remember.

More interesting was the backstory of her family, which Suki Kim begins with the story of her mother and her grandparents fleeing south during the Korean conflict. A few decades later, her parents made the decision to pull up stakes and move to the United States.  However, Kim's writing style failed to engage me, and I stopped reading before she returned her attention to her North Korean students.

I also have a vague sense (I'm not sure why, but it persists...maybe an article I read and half-remembered?) that Kim's memoir/reportage wasn't entirely responsible or discreet. This may be unfair to the author, but it colored my reading and eventual abandoning of the book.

1 comment:

Teresa said...

I read this and thought that her interactions with her students were pretty interesting, but the way she got there on false pretenses didn't sit well with me. Nothing to Envy is by far the better book about North Korea.